Mass transit ridership jumps in southeast Michigan

More and more people are catching rides on Metro Detroit’s mass transit systems, which saw significant jumps in ridership in 2006.
The Detroit Department of Transportation, Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, The People Mover and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority all saw ridership increases between 5 to 50 percent.

The number of people riding the People Mover jumped 50 percent, while SMART and DDOT each registered 10.5-percent and 5-percent increases, respectively. AATA ridership jumped 13 percent.

DDOT                  2005 = 34,724,028           2006 = 36,488,952  (+5%)
SMART                 2005 = 10,176,391           2006 = 11,251,836 (+10.5%)
People Mover      2005 = 1,558,646             2006 = 2,340,511   (+50%)
AATA                    2005 = 4,856,895             2006 = 5,488,317   (+13%)

"They’re all fairly significant climbs," said Janet Foran, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Overall, people riding mass transit in Michigan jumped 8.4 percent in 2006 to 93.1 million rides. The state’s seven urban transportation systems accounted for 78 million rides. DDOT and SMART provided slightly more than half of the total number of rides in the state, or 47.9 million. 
"Public transportation is a critical factor in providing mobility to Michigan residents," says Kirk T. Steudle, the state’s transportation director. "We attribute the rising numbers to several factors, including the ever-present issue of higher (and fluctuating) gas prices and effective local marketing efforts in larger, urban areas such as Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor."
Southeast Michigan, long dependent solely on buses for mass transit, is also working on two projects to diversify mass transit options by the end of the year. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is planning to establish a commuter train line connecting Detroit, Dearborn, Metro Airport, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor by the end of year. Ann Arbor-area leaders are also working to get another commuter rail line up and running north from the city into Livingston County along the U.S. 23 corridor by June.
Source: Janet Foran, spokeswoman for MDOT